|Slingbox PRO-HD Review|
|Home Theater Media Servers Home Theater/Media Center PCs|
|Written by Mike Flacy|
|Tuesday, 22 February 2011|
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When quality started to fall, it was typically when I was using a lower grade wi-fi network in coffee shops or the airport. Public wi-fi connections are certainly watchable, but you will immediately see a difference in pixel density and responsiveness of the interface. However, it's just a matter of adjusting your perception and still produces a signal that's highly watchable. I would compare it to a 360p resolution connection on a service like Hulu. If you are on a mobile device with a 3G connection, this also supports it. Again, the quality will drop dramatically and you will likely be disappointed with the result. I was able to watch portions of the Super Bowl on my iPhone when I had to make a run out for more snacks, but it was extremely pixelated. I would compare it to low-grade YouTube quality when blown up on a HDTV. The connection and streaming is rock solid and requires no buffering, but the picture is sub-par. The audio, however, is excellent.
As mentioned earlier, I tested out the iPhone Slingplayer Mobile application on my iPhone 4 as well as the first generation iPad. The interfaces on both are simple to understand, speedy in response and slick in design. When connected to Wi-Fi, I found the picture and resolution to be quite fantastic. However, 3G's lowered resolution quality and spotty performance wasn't my favorite way to watch video while on the go, but I did enjoy the stable framerate. The quality of the video is dependent on both your connection to the Internet and the Slingbox's connection to the Internet. If you are using a low quality wi-fi signal, you will get constant rebuffering reminders to gain that bump in picture quality. I don't approve of the pricing strategy as it bumps up the cost of the Slingplayer Pro HD by 10%. It seems like a natural pack-in to entice people to purchase the Pro HD, but dings your pocketbook yet again. The app is $29.99 on the App Store and requires 4.1 or greater for the iPhone 4 (4.2 for the iPad).
- The value of accessing all your recorded media from anywhere with Wi-Fi / 3G is huge.
- Picture / Sound quality is superb on most Wi-Fi connections and flawless within my home network.
- It's definitely not simple to get working, requires a moderate amount of home theater and networking knowledge.
- There's no HDMI option.
- There's no built-in wi-fi, requires a wired connection near your router.
The ability to watch your television or satellite content anywhere is certainly a powerful motivator for purchasing a Slingbox Pro-HD and, to that point, it does an admirable job of allowing access to television and movies while on the go in extremely high video / audio quality. It's most ideally suited for consumers that spend a large percentage of time on the road and don't want to be bothered with extra subscriptions to Hulu Plus or Netflix. It's probably best paired with a DVR to record current shows.
However, don't expect to have a simple installation like a Apple TV or Boxee Box. Installation alone requires a decent amount of home theater know-how. In addition, consumers that only need access to their media on-the-go a small portion of the time are likely better served with online streaming services rather than a SlingBox Pro-HD. If you are traveling all the time, consider the $299 SlingBox Pro-HD as a solid investment into getting the most out of the content that you are likely subscribing to on a monthly basis. If you are staying close to home most of the time, you can accomplish similar streaming with cheaper applications.